They have something called filters now. This is basically a Photoshop people use for their selfies, which in young people’s words mean a picture of one’s self.
I shake my head at this. I shake my head because of a girl I witnessed take a picture of herself while riding home on the bus from New York City.
She posed for the picture with her best kissy-faced expression, puffing her lips out ever so slightly to seem a bit more risque and desirable. She angled the picture in such a way to catch a part of her cleavage. This was not a picture for mom or dad by any means. No, this picture was intended for a desired effect.
In fairness, the girl was pretty in her own way. She was buxom for sure. She was fuller-figured with a round face and chubby cheeks. Her hair was long and blonde. Her eyes were a shade of hazel green. She was somewhere around the age of early to mid-twenties and sitting in an aisle seat across from mine.
I noticed her, not because of her looks but because she was clearly posing for a picture on a crowded bus, which is fine. She took a few pictures and then she chose one that seemed the most desirable.
This is when I learned about filters. I could see what she was doing. I watched her smooth out her features and adjust some of her curves to adhere to a more commercialized beauty. She dazzled her eyes a little bit and touched the color of her lips to seem a little more sparkly. And then the girl sent her picture to at least a dozen different guys.
I noticed this because I was being nosy for one thing — but she was clearly not discreet about her attempt at her sexy modeling career. Plus, I was in an aisle seat just slightly behind her, which meant I could see everything on her billboard-sized cell phone.
I wondered about the guys she sent the pictures to. I wondered what their initial meeting would be like when they met her in person and realized she looked nothing like the pictures she sent them. I wondered if this was a plea for attention or a desire to be wanted or needed. I wonder if the girl knew she was pretty enough as she was (because she was).
Her features were natural and sweet. But to the girl, I suppose she felt the need to make a few touch ups to improve the photos, which I grant her, the improvements were impressive.
In fact, the improvements were so impressive that the picture looked like an entirely different girl altogether. Maybe this is why they say a picture is worth a thousand words. I suppose my question is what was she trying to say?
See, I grew up before the age of technology. We didn’t do selfies back then. Our pictures were taken with a camera. We had to work for our photographs. And we had to wait for them too. We had to take them to the store to be developed.
The only instant source of photographs were taken with a Polaroid camera. And you’d pose and you’d take the picture and the flash would blind your eyes. Then the picture would shoot out from the bottom slot of the camera with a gray and glossy look to the photo. And you’d grab the picture from the slot and wave it in the air as if to dry it or have the photo develop quicker — meanwhile, the photograph isn’t wet when it comes out from the camera and the developing process is only a few minutes.
There was no erase or delete. Either you liked the picture or you didn’t. And if you didn’t like the picture then you took another photo from an improved angle.
There were no filters back then. We looked the way we looked. There was no changing this. A picture was worth a thousand words, only our words said something different.
Did I ever tell you about a girl I met from a phone call? This was before the cell phone craze and before the days of filters. We used to speak on the phone for work reasons. I was a salesman and she was a receptionist for one of my accounts.
We ended up speaking for a while. She was always very friendly. She had a sweet voice. And she described herself as “very pretty,” and how could she not be pretty with a voice like hers?
She told me what she looked like on a few occasions. She told me that she went on a few dates. I was also in the dating scene at the time and thought to myself, “Might as well try.” And I did.
The girl made a few plans with me but canceled at the last minute. We tried to get together but it seemed schedules were tough, and that her and I were not supposed to happen.
Finally, she agreed to meet me outside of Pennsylvania Station one night. And I waited and I waited. I waited some more and then I waited a little longer. Eventually, I grew tired of waiting, so I only waited a little longer but no one showed and there was no one around that matched her description. Or at least, so I thought.
There was a girl standing near me. She was not typical looking by any means. Her face had a slight abnormality. As I was about to leave, the girl asked me if I had the time. Her voice did not sound the same as the girl from the phone, so I did not make the connection.
I answered, to which she replied, “Are you Ben?”
It was her.
She was the receptionist. And she lied.
She lied about her height and what she looked like. She lied as much as anyone could lie. We talked for a brief second before her attitude turned sour on her part.
“You can go ahead and walk away now,” she told me.
“I don’t care what you think of me. I know I’m beautiful.”
I didn’t argue or say anything back. I just asked “Then why didn’t you say anything to me, especially since I’ve been standing next to you for the last 20 minutes?”
The one thing I learned is no matter how much technology advances, insecurity will always be insecurity. Fantasy will always be fantasy, and reality is only reality.
It’s an ugly thing to feel as though you have to lie about yourself. It’s an ugly truth that we are programmed to understand commercial beauty.
I get it.
And here’s another fact. As far as insecurity goes; I am the most insecure person I have ever met. My eyes are shaped a little differently. One of my ears is shaped a little differently. I’ve never had 6-pack abs in my life. I’ve never seen myself as physically desirable and there were times in my life when thoughts like this were literally crippling to me.
I remember life in my single days. I remember getting ready to go out took me forever because I would put on an outfit, not like it, change it, and then put on another outfit, only to go back to the first outfit I tried on to begin with. To put this in the simplest way possible, I used to drive myself crazy because I believed in such an inaccurate version of who I am.
The dictionary defines beauty as this:
The quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations or a meaningful design or pattern, or something else, as in a personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest — a “beautiful” thing, as in a beautiful feature or trait; an individually pleasing or beautiful quality.
Beauty comes from within. And not in a selfie. Although, I have to admit, I’ve seen some selfies that look really nice. But to me, nothing is more beautiful than you in the flesh. The rest is just fantasy. And fantasy isn’t real.
But you are!
Please remember this.